Lack of civic responsibilities in India: Comparing India with America
and the Western world…Mayors hold the key to better civic facilities
Yesterday my daughter appeared for NEET exam for the third time. She qualified in
the first two attempts but could not score to get a government college. On her own,
she said she would like to take another go at it. During her course of NEET
preparations, we found a few things and observations that demand the attention of
one and all. While we went in a paid taxi to the NEET center we found a good
number of ‘Govt of India’ cars to drop the kids by their powerful parents. The same
can be seen when they come for attending coaching classes which we will write
below. This also made us realize why RESERVATION is necessary in India because
of the vast difference between PRIVILEGE CLASS AND THE NON PRIVILEGED.
The brazen misuse of power is most seen in India compared to any other democracy
in the world.
We live in India, in an area that is known for its coaching classes. The area
came into focus when an IITian opened a coaching center in the area back in the 80s or
something like that. The area otherwise has govt flat societies and a small
market. Of late we have more big brands coming here to set shop. ALLEN arrived
just last year. PhysicaWala another coaching class which has made good success has
also purchased many buildings here. There is also Unacademcy and some more
classes. FIITJEE being the oldest has purchased huge properties here even govt flats
for its teachers and students.
On weekends as the coaching classes have weekly exams, the area gets congested
with all sorts of cars coming, and many governments ON duty, to drop their wards. There
is no place to walk as students hustle with their parents. Along with the traffic, one
can see many shops being opened up, especially food joints. From vegetarian to Non
vegetarian all options are now available which was not the case just a few years
back. It’s not only the Muradabadi Chicken/mutton shop, but we were shocked to
see a shop that was selling the naked raw flesh of some of the animals. It’s not only
unhygienic but also leads to other problems. Somehow and we don’t know why this
shop is now closed. But the Muradabadi chicken shop is doing good business along
with other Hyderabadi Biryani houses.
The rental and property prices of the area shot when the Metro came to the
area. It has got another boost with Physcics Wala and Allen opening set up here. The
area can now be classified as upper middle class as no AAM Aadmi can get a house
The question is why do we allow commercial business to be run in residential areas
that gives a boost to property prices and also creates many issues for the locals? If you
have a guest coming on any weekend we are sure he will be lost and won’t be able to
reach your place.
The nexus between these coaching classes and administration/politicians is very
simple. We are told a Hafta goes to all leading politicians and also police stations
from the coaching and other business houses of the area. With money coming to
pockets no media or administration takes up the issue and the menace continues.
We are not against any commercial business but we think we should have better
management for our civic responsibilities. The area could have become a very
peaceful residential place had all these not come up.
We wonder if NITI AAYOG has a vertical for URBAN habitat which is a must for any policy think tank. The Modi
the government initiated the SMART CITY project across the country but has failed to
address the basic need of many cities where rampant unregulated businesses have
come up disturbing the living index of the area.
In America we are sure these won’t happen. for whatever, one may say against United
States, one thing has been sacrosanct about them. They respect laws and go by them. It’s a
country made of a very strict system and rules. There may be other kinds of
problems but for civic issues, we think the American model is quite good.
Like India America is also divided into various states and the federal
government. Local governments generally include two tiers: counties, also known as
boroughs in Alaska and parishes in Louisiana, and municipalities, or cities/towns. In
some States, counties are divided into townships. Municipalities can be structured in
many ways, as defined by State constitutions, and are called, variously, townships,
villages, boroughs, cities, or towns. Various kinds of districts also provide functions
in local government outside county or municipal boundaries, such as school districts
or fire protection districts.
The local governments are governed by Mayor who are elected representatives like
India. And are largely responsible to take care of all amenities of the city. They are
empowered to bring innovation and changes from schools to libraries, markets to
transportation etc. The Mayoral elections are very hard fought and bring the best of
the best as Mayors of the city.
In India, we have left the municipalities and Mayors to the cheapest kind of politicians, especially the councilors. No one has paid attention
to the municipal elections as much as we should have. The BMC, NDMC, and other municipal corporations are so
big and powerful but still lack the class and competence to govern them. This is the
difference that is making India more of a Banana republic rather than an educated
We have tried to highlight some issues in the civic responsibility and have tried to
compare it with America. The major observation from our point of view is that in the
In the US the Mayors are very powerful and have demonstrated how they have transformed
and converted cities into excellent habitat centers. Take the city of Chicago, Seattle,
Philadelphia and many others where some excellent mayoral work can be seen.
In India, we too have Mayors but are not known for their professional competence.
Most of them are women who are made Mayors for reasons we dont know. Except
for the city of Indore where a new wave of cleanliness and civic responsibility can be
seen we have not found other cities which have good municipal work.
In India, we have a lot to work on, especially at the grass root levels. Just like the
municipalities another center of power which is not rightly utilized are the
Panchayats. We request PM Modi and Sangh Parivar to pay more attention at these
two positions and power centers. Without good Mqyors and Sarpanch, we will not be
able to make life of urban and rural dwellers a better experience.
We need good competent people for the lower level of governance. Until then city
havoc and menace will continue with no place to hide.
Dr Asheesh Shah
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